Imagine the asylum seekers being flown to Rwanda on Emirates Airlines. Maybe the relevant minister is an Arsenal fan and has been influenced by the sponsorship of the Arsenal shirt. On the sleeve they saw “Visit Rwanda” and on the front they saw “Fly Emirates”.
At the start of this month, another post on this site drew attention to the questionable benefits of having football tourists. Specifically, Robbie Butler’s post examined the way authorities in Seville asked Rangers fans without tickets to stay away. A couple of days earlier, Liverpool football fans must have felt that the French authorities did not want them in Paris for the Champions League Final – tickets or not.
It seems strange that Rwanda would want football fans – even ones with the limited aggression and passion of Arsenal fans!
Surely Rwanda does not want those shadowy forces that seek to give English football fans a bad name. Tonight, England footballers play Italy behind closed doors. Fans are excluded because of trouble in the UEFA Nations League final between the same two teams at Wembley. At his press conferences the England manager claimed that those who caused the trouble were not football fans. It would seem that the football game was not upper most on their minds but why do they go to English football games rather than England rugby or cricket games.
The Irish were fortunate that economic migration to Britain was possible. One would like to think that they, and their descendants, added to life in their new home. They were probably also sensitive to the relationship between migration and economic circumstances. One of those descendants was Caroline Aherne. Aherne co-wrote The Royle Family. She also was the host of The Mrs Merton Show. In one episode, Aherne asked the comedian Bernard Manning, “Who do you vote for now Hitler’s dead?” - Manning drew attention to Aherne's Irish background with a comment about leaving bags (bombs) under tables. Manning explained that he told racist jokes because it paid. Economic incentives. In another episode Aherne asked Debbie McGee, “What first attracted you to the millionaire Paul Daniels?”
Before this week I often wondered how many tourists went to Rwanda because of the "Visit Rwanda" words on the Arsenal shirt. In his blog post earlier this month, Robbie Butler drew attention to the questionable statements made by economic consultants about the link between tourism and major sporting events. Jim Royle's "my arse” seems to apply to many of these claims. Whatever help Rwanda got from being on the Arsenal shirt, it is hard to imagine that its image has been aided by the link with current British policy. Unfortunately, to paraphrase Jim Royle, it is likely to be "Visit Rwanda? My arse."